Of all the Devil May Cry games released over the years, I’ve played Devil May Cry 4 more than any other, but I’m not the type who would attribute that to the game being of transcendent quality. I’d attribute it to the fact that it hit all the right notes I wanted to hear at the time.
That’s not to say the game isn’t good. It is. If you’re into action games, it’s very, very good. And, as I’m a hopeless mark for enhanced versions of games I like, for better or worse, when it showed up on the PS4, I downloaded it without a second thought. But playing it again after so many years – and especially after playing Ninja Theory’s awesome reboot – I noticed something interesting about it.
Although it wasn’t released all that long ago, the gameplay feels a bit dated. I pin this down to two factors. First up, although it was the first game in the franchise to give us camera control, DMC4 is kind of bitchy and begrudging about it – frequently wrenching the camera away from you and placing it in survival-horror angles when it decides it knows better.
The archaic survival-horror tang continues into my second point – survival horror-esque key hunting and puzzle solving. I’d forgotten how much time you spend wandering around looking for items or trying to figure out what to do next. I totally forgot you need to power up the statues to smash through certain items in the castle, for instance, and it took me ages to figure it out again because I’ve gotten used to games making sense.
That aside, it’s still every bit as good as I remembered. For the first half of the game, players control young newbie Nero, a swordsman with a demonically-powered arm, as he hunts down Dante (the protagonist of the preceding three games) because of a misunderstanding. For the second half of the game, players control Dante as he backtracks and cleans up Nero’s mess.
Both of them have access to all kinds of melee and gun attacks, special moves and superpowers you have to charge up. As you slash your way through the varied and creative demon hordes and bosses – which are really challenging on the higher difficulties – you’re rated for keeping your fighting style varied and imaginative without being hit.
This enhanced re-release runs at 60fps and 1080p, which is great for a game that relies on precision timing. But that’s not all, it also allows us to play as three extra characters: Dante’s katana-wielding brother Virgil (isn’t he dead?), Dante’s love interest Trish, who uses his father’s sword, and Dante’s bazooka-toting, motorcycle-riding, not-entirely-trustworthy peer in the demon-slaying business, Lady.
Each of the new characters has their own selection of weapons and a tree of skills you can earn over the course of the game. I’m particularly intrigued by Lady. Since she showed up in DMC3, I’d always thought she would be a cool playable character – and now she is. Her bladed bazooka lends itself to a slower but heavier fighting style, meaning you have to fight with some foresight.
Devil May Cry fans, buy it. It’s great. Anyone else, if you’re looking for a good action game, you could do far worse.